How Physics build the concept of Entrepreneurship: The inside story.

Entrepreneurship, as most of us believe is not a recent phenomena but has a vast history of ideas, inventions and intersections beginning from the early 19th Century world of physics. It all started with a thought when law of classical mechanics and thermodynamics had been already established through various experiments by the likes of Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Bernoulli, Cavendish, Franklin and Lagrange. Just when these ideas of fundamental science of motion flourished, better ideas came through. As the horizontal base of the pyramid was set, vertical growth was imperative and inevitable.

The one idea, which started the era of entrepreneurship, was the invention of electric battery by Alessandro Volta in 1800. This invention led to more discoveries by Ampere and Ohm who further demonstrated the parallel electric currents exerted forces on each other and relationship between voltage, current and resistance respectively, which is the basis of fundamental electrodynamics. Just when Thomas Young demonstrated the wave nature of light, understanding of principle of interference and superposition developed. It all made sense, when Michael Faraday built an electricity powered motor in 1821 and formed the basis of current through magnetism i.e electromagnetic induction. Ideas evolved then on the basis of other ideas. Isn’t that entrepreneurship already in true sense? An idea Faraday proposed regarding electromagnetic forces was rejected by the scientific community, which was later accepted by the rest of the world and still forms the development of electromechanical devices that ruled the 19th Century engineering.

Meanwhile, in the field of thermodynamics Joule and Mayer worked on the connection between heat and mechanical energy. This connection was important for the development of steam engines. Carnot captured these basic ideas to form the dynamics of idealized engines and these ideas hold to formulate the most important idea of First Law of Thermodynamics. This led to the second law of Thermodynamics and so on by Kelvin and Clausius. Just when Maxwell through his ideas carried forward the idea of electricity and magnetism, Hertz experimentally confirmed those theories and discovered the photoelectric effect, which led to the invention of radio and television. These ideas were then carried forward by Nikola Tesla and Jagdishchandra Bose to further develop the ecosystem with different ideas. This is how physics led to application based engineering in the time when technology was not mainstream.

If this culture wasn’t prevailing then, the emergence of the 19th Century’s finest entrepreneurs, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison wouldn’t have been possible. During late 1870’s, Henry Ford started working as a machinist in Detroit, USA dealing with portable steam engines while Edison formed his Edison Electric Light company patenting electric light bulbs. By then, Edison had already invented phonograph and telegraph, which changed the way world communicated. With his creation of the first ever industrial research Lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey, Edison then quoted “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn the candles”. And this still holds true in our time, where candles are expensive than electricity. Edison also invented the motion picture camera. Thank god, he did!

On the other hand, Henry Ford became an engineer at Edison Illuminating Company where he used to work on his personal automobile experiments and his creation of a self-propelled vehicle called Ford Quadricycle. He was then introduced to Edison through a group meeting, where Edison encouraged him to work on his second vehicle. Soon, after his completion of the second project, Ford left Edison’s company to start Detroit Automobile Company with capital from a baron, William Murphy. Ultimately, that company was dissolved and with the invention of 26 horsepower automobile, the backers formed Henry Ford Company with Ford as the chief engineer. The rest, as they say is history. The inventor-entrepreneur philosophy emerged in the beginning of the 20th Century, when a sizable number of physicists were forming companies in the tune to change the world.

As the culture progressed, with the world facing two disastrous wars, one in 1914-18 and the other in 1939-45, these gave the necessity to nations forming different aerial and ground-breaking technologies, primarily to use against each other. They say, necessity gives rise to inventions. And this necessity lead nations to develop what is going to be constructive and in lives of all in the near future. The Second World War held the genesis of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, when Americans entered WWII in 1941. This war was literally an electronic war, where nations were battling with each other with different bombing and radar based technologies. Each nation, primarily Germany and USA, built different types of radars, to block and pursue efficient communication with their bases regarding the movements of the opposite camp’s defense. This lead to the formation of Harvard Radio Research Lab in US to understand the signals intelligence and develop electronic warfare. This secret lab was headed by Dr. Fredrick Terman, who was the Dean of Department of Engineering at Stanford University.

The Stanford director, due to the pressure from the government and the culture shift, encouraged students to turn to entrepreneurship and start their own companies. The students included William Hewlett and David Packard, who went on to start HP Computers. Since then scientific research and development in the universities across US begun to flourish and became the precursor to the beginning of 20th Century entrepreneurship. The idea of open-source mentality among the physicists led to the widening developments in science and technology entrepreneurship. After the WWII, Terman’s strategy included the setup of Electronic Research Laboratory (ERL) to promote basic and unclassified research in building radars, power-tubes and jammers. Soon after the setup of Applied Electronics Laboratory (AEL) and the merge of both ERL and AEL became Systems Engineering Laboratory (SRL) at Stanford. It was then, different microwave and systems companies emerged in Silicon Valley to produce equipments for the US defense. And that was the mark of beginning of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurship.

After the independence in 1947, India was at the forefront of social and political havoc, but the ideology among Indian entrepreneurs despite that did not change and they invested in their own independent nation for a better future. One of those entrepreneurs was Vikram Sarabhai, who after studying natural sciences at Cambridge returned to India to set up a research institution, Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad. He was the founder of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and pursued the government of India to start a space research program, when Russia just launched Sputnik into the space. Moreover, he was also one of the founding members of one of the premier institutes in India, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. He was a physicist turned entrepreneur. And India is highly indebted to him for what his vision has given to the country. The idea of Entrepreneurship by then had already established by the pioneers G.D Birla and J.R.D Tata. A new wave of entrepreneurship emerged in India as a consequence of the existing business tradition and culture.

As different electronics companies emerged in the Silicon Valley in the mid 1950s, William Shockley, who was the director of anti-submarine warfare operations group at Columbia in 1942-43 and Solid State Physics group leader, co-invented the first point contact transistor with help with Bell Labs. He was then jointly awarded Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956. By then, Shockley has already founded Shockley semiconductor in 1955, which was the first semiconductor company in California. The traitorous eight which included Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce and Sheldon Roberts who were the youngest employees at the firm demanded to replace Shockley from the management team and eventually left Shockley semiconductor to start Fairchild Semiconductor. Eventually, Moore and Noyce left Fairchild to start Integrated Electronics (Intel) and others started Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Though Shockley maybe a bad manager, but he was a great researcher and someone who laid the foundation of chip companies, which dominated the industry for the next 20 years. The 65 chip companies which were founded came from the first and second generation teams at Shockley Semiconductor. Some entrepreneurs have the tendency to make other entrepreneurs through knowledge transfer and freedom to work on their projects. Knowingly or unknowingly, he made a lot of entrepreneurs under his own belt. In true sense, Shockley was the father of the Silicon Valley, the valley that revolutionized the world of electronics.

Gordon Moore, who was a chemist and physicist and Robert Noyce, who was a physicist and co-inventor of integrated circuits, started Intel after leaving Fairchild Semiconductor with capital investment from Arthur Rock. With Intel breaking the barrier, the world changed with the inbound of microprocessors and micro controllers, the most important components of CPU used in the computers. And we all know what happened after that! (The device on which you are reading this post).

Physicists have been old hands at entrepreneurship. Today, more physicists than ever are involved in different startups all over the world either as founders or employees. Startups are inventing different physics based innovations and products, since Patenting and Intellectual Property law in US are adopted in the culture and has become popular among the early stage startups. One of the Entrepreneur who is considered as the next generation Steve Jobs, is Elon Musk. Elon has studied physics as his second bachelors degree from University of Pennsylvania and is the founder of SpaceX, who’s one of the mission is to find life at Mars by 2020, and is best known as the co-founder of online payment giant, PayPal and electric vehicles manufacturer, Tesla Motors. The interests he developed over rocket technologies and clean technologies were due to his aptitude and love for physics, and he credits the subject for all what he is today.

Today, entrepreneurship is popular among scientists and young PHDs and more people from physics background are starting disruptive technology based startups. Though starting a technology company is a complex operation and takes time to reach the break-even, the success is the idea where solid businesses endure over time, generate steady employment, develop intellectual property and conduct a mix of R&D for game-changing commercial results. To all what we see and experience today is the result of works and theories by thousands of scientists over last two centuries and the ones who implemented those works in building the future. Theories connected with realism of behavior, materials, systems and devices, and technologies erupted like the volcano. The horizontal base of physics and nature of sciences has been creating the way for our vertical future. And Entrepreneurs are the ones adapting it.

How Bitcoins changes the economics?

We must have recently learned about the virtual currency that is recognized in the digital community as the Digital Gold. We all must have come across online social games where collecting coins determines how well you have performed in the game like the recently popular game app TempleRun. With those coins, we could unlock other stages, players, equipments and other innovative features that helps us survive in the game and get addicted to it. Similarly, there are coins which are used to buy and exchange real products in a new currency form known as Bitcoins.

What is a Bitcoin? 

These Bitcoins are not controlled by any government or banks, but are algorithmically designed intangible, digital form of currency that efficiently controls the flow of money. Today, almost $750m worth Bitcoins are traded and stored through the digital wallets. One can get Bitcoins by a concept called Online Mining, like the concept in mining of gold. By running an online store that accepts Bitcoins, or by exchanging dollars, yens, pounds etc to Bitcoins or by mining bitcoins through computer generated problems, we can acquire and use the Bitcoins. The current value of 1 Bitcoin is almost $120 and the value is volatile like the stock markets. The maximum amount of Bitcoins that can be traded and stored has a cap of 21 Million and not a single Bitcoin more.

So how does this affect the economics? 

In the ancient times, different metals were exchanged to barter goods among different communities, which represented amount of grains stored. Then came the coinage, where metals were mined, weighed and stamped into different coins of gold, silver and copper. Then, the need for credit and a currency that was less burdensome to exchange led to the introduction of Paper Money from the Pre-modern China.

As Bitcoins are gaining more popularity by the attributes it showcases like acceptability, design, limited supply and easy transfer without processing fees, the economics of money will be altered in bits.

1. While some people in the US government feel that the government is excessively printing money, for the money circulation and its link to productivity and employment opportunities, they are devaluing the dollar. If Bitcoins are introduced and gains acceptability, due to its maximum cap of 21 Million, the excess printing of money will be discontinued, which alters the economics of money supply.

2. Moreover, if Bitcoins are introduced, the transfer of bitcoins through buying/selling products which are legal or illegal in nature cannot be tracked. This definitely excites the ones involved in money laundering, manipulating the black money and other illegal activities.

3. Bitcoins also eliminate the possibility of transfer of dollars by paying a significant sum of fees to payment portals like PayPal, CCAvenue etc. These middlemen companies have no role in the transfer of Bitcoins. Similarly, the processing fees charged through central banks will also be eliminated. And governments, individuals, companies can transfer money without the need of these middlemen.

4. In Bitcoins, the money supply is fixed by design, which is a limiting factor and thus will be highly volatile in terms of dollar exchange rates.

5. There is a possibility of hacking the digital wallets in which the bitcoins will be stored and hence one cannot recover the bitcoins once stolen, this excites the hacker community in general. There is no way to track these stolen bitcoins though Bitcoins are cryptographically designed.

Also, watch this video: 

Though, the new virtual currency is in the talks, the role of governments will be the most important factor in determining the life of Bitcoins. Till then in God we trust. 

Coding: The new way of thinking

Today, the world is a boiling pot of data, softwares and codes flowing through the internet. Through these codes startups/companies prototype, design, create and build their disruptive technologies which change the way we communicate with the world. Coming from a STEM background has helped me understand the basics of software and applications, as it gives one the way to think structurally and logically. As, I am pursuing my master thesis project applying an effective tool LABVIEW for building algorithms to extract electrical, mechanical and optical properties of  different devices, the exercise has helped me structure my thought processes algorithmically. Thinking structurally is the need of the hour creative thinking.

Recently, we might have come across the video which went viral from stating the importance of coding in our lives. If you haven’t seen it, I am sharing it here. It explains the need of coding in our lives as we are continuously linked to it in our daily lives through social network, interactive devices and computers.

Also, I have come across an informative TEDx talk from the CEO of FirstRain, Penny Herscher who explains how coding has helped her achieve what she has achieved in her life and its underlying importance in the time we live in.

Though, we know what we are capable of. It’s just an afterthought of what you can build and impact this world many folds like never before. Coding is definitely the new way of thinking, if not boring. 

Remembering Vivekananda

English: Higher detail image of Swami_Vivekana...

Today is the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda (1863-2013) and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day in India. He was a spiritual leader, a man of principles and an avid orator in Interfaith Awareness.

I am sharing his speech at Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago in 1893. which I luckily found on the web.

Here’s the full length of the speech, a must read.

Sisters and Brothers of America:

It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.

My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.”

Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

The Game of throne

The one thing for which India is famous about is its political culture. It is that one thing which keeps everyone bonded in terms of happenings, opinions and the made-up news. The recent series of exposures made by Arvind Kejriwal from the India Against Corruption team (Yes, he finally joined politics forming his own party and departed ways with the Gandhian Anna Hazare) on different politicians has pervaded the stream of wave among the commons in India. Congress, which has formed UPA government (United Progressive Alliance), a coalition government infused with several political parties in India like BSP( Bahujan Samajwadi Party), SP( Samajwadi Party- who’s ruling Uttar Pradesh, largest state in India with highest number of parliamentary seats), NCP( Led by Sharad Pawar), Trinamool Congress (Now out congress over FDI in Retail and Diesel Price hike, originally from ) etc has been in doldrums since early 2009. The political instability lies in the formation of this coherent, co-operative and co-stupid government which is deep-rooted with corruption and ignorance.

The coalition government has always divided the country by the political parties and there is no mutual decision-making in any of the issues faced inside or outside the country. This issue is the issue of division among the masses of the country, who eventually end up suffering. I don’t want to sound like Arundhati Roy here, but the country needs an elected representative from its capitalist regime, who just doesn’t see profits of his/her state or company but also see profits for the masses. And only a capitalist can understand this. The economy of the country lies in the hands of the capitalists and as they say the global economy is a capitalist economy. One such example is of Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi from the Opposition Party ( BJP- Bhartiya Janta Party) who is serving as Chief Minister of Gujarat consecutively for the second time, and recently TIME Magazine covered him stating ‘Modi Means Business’ from the good he has done to Gujarat State in terms of business, trade and law. We need people like him at the center, if not him if we still hold the grudges of the past.

The country needs unidirectional people with a single focus of doing good to the country and not just doing good to their house. For that, everything matters. The single vote will matter. So, all those who have been thinking not to vote must stand up, renew their voting cards and vote in the upcoming elections whenever they be either Midterm polls or 2014. Then, we will be called the true citizens of the country, despite anything, for the love of god.

I am going to vote for the first time which will embark my start to all the next times.

You play the game in the game of throne. And let your voice count.

The White Leopard (Not Snow)

So this has been a long break from writing and I suddenly feel an urge of starting it all over again. But a lot has happened all this while in countries, businesses and people. There are elections coming in the US, the internal conflicts in India has been rising over corruptions and scandals, the Chinese businesses are leading their way in producing cheaper consumer products, the world is turning to renewable energies, Apple is making amazing products, Samsung is jealous and climate change, we realize, is not a hoax. But, in between all of these the best thing that I did my dream internship at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and then went to Berlin to visit a friend and then Falera, Switzerland (Breathtaking village between the swiss alps and 2 hours ride from Zurich) for an International Summer University in Energy. The urge to travel from a long time finally got fulfilled, and trust me friends travelling alone is the best thing you can ever do to yourself.

Soon after my stint from the Summer program, I am finally back to my place and nothing is as beautiful as your home and the of course food with spices you get in India (which was badly missing in Europe). Just when I was sorting out my library (with sole intention to dust it), I got my hands on a book called The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, which won the booker prize in 2008. I completed that book in one go and I liked the way the author described the rave India with a lot of intended pun addressing the story to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. This book is a story of a poor young boy from Rural India on how he gets corrupt and transform himself in the process of becoming an Entrepreneur. I realized that’s true with most of the people in India who actually don’t earn their Cheeseburger in a day, and there are millions of them. From the rich tradition to ravanous politics, this is the story of India. The India of all small things, we’ll talk about god later.

We talk our Indian Premier, who is known as the Silent man of India, the prime minister. He recently introduced FDI in retail, hiked diesel prices etc to give a boost to the Indian Economy despite of failed attempts to stop corruption in his own team. There were protests meanwhile from various personalities and all of them are tired and quiet now. The opposing government tries to pinpoint the government on policy changes and various other issues in the states or elsewhere. This is how the coalition government works and in democracy, there will always been someone losing in the whole process, that is the Common man. Just as described in the book The White Tiger, the boy who understands the system, gets into it and become successful from misdoings ( there are a lot of ‘success stories’ like that) and then become the Entrepreneur of principles for the people of his own company. And he was called the White Tiger. We need someone like that to run our country. The one who adapts to the system, gets into it and has one vision in his/her mind, to grow urban India as well the rural India and nor his team or him has accounts in Swiss banks. Then, he will be known as the White Leopard among the Black bulls. I believe there is some white leopard in the making. The Leader of leaders.

Ah, I love Swiss chocolates!

The Brick Walls at IIM A and how they inspire me!

English: Harvard Steps

English: Harvard Steps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Build with motivation and passion of its founders, Vikram Sarabhai – A prominent Scientist and Industrialist, KasturBhai Lalbhai– well-known Industrialist and Ravi J Matthai- First Director(1965-72), the institute has progressed through all leaps and bounds and is currently on the frontier of centers for excellence nationally and globally. It’s the most competitive place to get in, and it is that for a reason; infact several reasons. The Institute is leading for its overall development and achievements in fulfilling its core mission of fostering entrepreneurship and promoting innovation. With a great alumni network over almost 48 years, and even better alumnus ranging from CEOs in top multinational companies, to quite a number of successful entrepreneurs, authors, professors and economists, it has a recognition of providing the best to the world. IIM A was collaborated with Harvard University during its early inception and the approach of teaching methodologies has been adapted from the university. Owing to this, the steps to enter the IIM A building is called  ‘Harvard Steps’. Louis Kahn, the legendary architect designed the old campus of IIM A Building imbibing amazing geometrical design with bricks.

So, where does the inspiration come from? It’s all in the air and in the vacuum of these walls. Not just this, the best feeling is when you are sitting in front of Vikram Sarabhai Library (which is 24*7 open), and the gliding waves of air touches you. That’s where the inspiration comes from! The walk in front of those lawns is much more inspiring and full of ideas. If given a chance, this place is worth a visit and even more worthier to study in. There is so much to say but so less time (Use Google for more information). I can sleep with satisfaction now! One is writing after long and one of  praising the place.

And I remember the quote I read few days back,

“Whether we like it or not, we all come from someplace. And at some point in our lives, we have to make peace with that place.” 

I am sure, I have made peace with this place and this is how it inspires me through its walls which talk (It really does!).